Women and violence: 11 out of 15 safe houses in Serbia currently operating

žene, nasilje

There are a total of 15 women’s shelters in Serbia out of which only 11 are currently operating while Serbia meets a quarter of the capacity it should have, said Andrijana Radoicic Nedeljkovic of the citizens’ association Atina.

“Out of these 11 only six have licenses that are issued by the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs,” Radoicic Nedeljkovic told N1.

These safe houses have a total of 190 beds, or a quarter of 719 which is the number of beds safe houses in Serbia should provide, she explained.

Radoicic Nedeljkovic said the safety in some of the women’s shelters is questionable, that there have been situations when the confidentiality of the location was breached, but added that this is a problem that can be solved.

There needs to be a consensus on the minimal security standard of safe houses, and Atina has proposed to the Ministry standards related to safe houses. The safe houses in Serbia currently do not have 24-hour security and video surveillance, said Radoicic Nedeljkovic.

She also explained that the difference between the six licensed safe houses and the five that operate without licenses refers to structural standards – technical conditions that a facility must meet, the number of employees, fire protection, but stressed that none of these speak of the quality of work.

According to her, safe houses are the last resort when there is a high risk of femicide and when violence has seriously escalated, but opening new shelters or increasing the capacities of the existing ones will not solve the problem.

“The persons committing violence need to be prosecuted. A woman going to a shelter is not always the solution, the abuser also needs to be prosecuted and monitored in order to prevent femicide,” said Radoicic Nedeljkovic.